Theatrical release window in Australia is being challenged

‘Brittany Runs a Marathon.’

More cracks are appearing in the previously impregnable 90-day theatrical window, causing consternation among the major chains and some independent cinemas.

The Netflix productions The King, The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes are all defying the traditional window with an average gap of three weeks between theatrical launch and streaming.

The Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace in Cremorne, Peter Sourris’ New Farm Cinemas and The Elizabeth Picture Theatre in Brisbane and The Backlot in Perth have booked the Netflix releases, joining Dendy Cinemas and Eddie Tamir’s Classic, Lido and Cameo Cinemas in Victoria and Randwick Ritz.

David Michôd’s The King, which opened in those cinemas last Friday, will premiere on Netflix on November 1. The streaming giant requires all participating exhibitors to sign NDA agreements so the box office earnings will never be revealed.

Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman opens in cinemas on November 7 and streams on Netflix on November 27, followed by Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story (November 14; December 6) and Fernando Meirelles’ The Two Popes (December 5; December 20).

Transmission Films has confirmed Amazon Studios’ Brittany Runs a Marathon and The Report will have limited cinema runs before they go out on the streaming service.

The distributor, which has an output deal with Amazon, refers to both as alternate content releases despite the fact that category traditionally has been reserved for non-theatrical fare such as concerts, theatre and art exhibitions.

The expedited window for Brittany Runs a Marathon, which opens in cinemas on October 31, is no surprise since the dramedy from writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo, which stars Jillian Bell as a hard-partying New Yorker whose friend persuades her to enter the New York City Marathon, bombed in US cinemas in September.

Less expected is the abbreviated window for Scott Z. Burns’ The Report, which stars Adam Driver as Daniel J. Jones, a staffer of Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), who leads the investigation into the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation procedures.

Amazon acquired the film, which co-stars Jon Hamm, Michael C Hall, Sarah Goldberg and Douglas Hodge, for $US14 million at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It opens here on November 14, the day before the US, and will be available on Amazon Prime Video on November 29.

As IF reported, many exhibitors are dismayed with the increasing number of titles which break the window, believing that jeopardises the primacy of the theatrical release while they continue to invest millions of dollars refurbishing their cinemas.

The issue is expected to be a hot talking point at next week’s Australian International Movie Convention.

David Seargeant, chairman of the National Association of Cinema Operators – Australasia, which reps the major chains and some independents, tells IF: “NACO is committed to the theatrical window. We are very concerned that several exhibitors, who are not our members, are taking a short-term view and showing films without an appropriate theatrical season.”